Now PlayingEpisode 2: We Live with the Land
About the Program
The Great Plains was once among the greatest grasslands on the planet. But as the United States grew westward, the Plains were plowed up, fenced in, grazed, and almost completely transformed. Today, what remains of the original Great Plains is a fragmented landscape - the most endangered, least protected and perhaps most under-appreciated ecosystem in North America.
Millions of bison, elk, pronghorn and deer, vast prairie dog towns, top predators like plains grizzlies and prairie wolves, and massive migrations of birds and fish were common for this environ. But as America grew, the land was settled and tamed, and in the blink of an eye most of the wildness was gone.
Covering the states of Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North and South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming, the Great Plains is a fragile and threatened ecosystem, home to a variety of wildlife and habitats. In Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild , renowned photographer Michael Forsberg brings viewers closer to the wildlife and native landscapes that still remain, exploring the condition of the plains ecosystem today.
This two-part documentary takes viewers on behind-the-scenes adventures with Forsberg in his wildlife blinds and to the far reaches of the Great Plains where the wild still lingers. NET Television follows him to Montana’s Upper Missouri region famed to followers of Lewis and Clark. Viewers also see him at work in South Dakota trying to photograph the wily Black Footed Ferret.
In North Dakota, during the spring, Forsberg visits a wetland “waterfowl factory” known as the Missouri Couteau. Near Amarillo, Texas, on the Southern Plains, Lesser Prairie Chickens mate and raise young on land that was once devastated in the Dust Bowl. Near the front range of the Rockies, in South Dakota’s Black Hills region, and at Nebraska’s Spring Creek Audubon Prairie, using sophisticated infrared camera “traps”, Forsberg makes several of his most memorable images - a Mountain Lion, a Grizzly Bear and a Bobcat – each rare and elusive. Through his examination of these regions, Forsberg also introduces some of the people who care for and preserve our natural heritage.
Like a braided prairie river, Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild has channels and currents weaving together a portrait of an accomplished wildlife photographer on a mission. It’s the sweeping story of his vast subject, but more importantly it’s the story of the elusive creatures and their images that give us a chance to see what is mostly hidden - yet remains. Along the way we meet people who care deeply about the Plains – from wildlife biologists and ranchers to school kids who are using the book in their classroom studies.
Produced by NET’s national documentary team, Great Plains: America’s Lingering Wild features intense location scenes of Michael Forsberg working in some of the most out of the way places and under the harsh conditions necessary for photographic success with the elusive species of birds, mammals, fish and amphibians that inhabit the region. And along the way we meet the people who care deeply about the Plains – from wildlife biologists and ranchers to school kids.